Ayurveda #1 Health Tip: Digestion, Digestion, Digestion!

Once again, I am writing about digestion. The reason this topic comes up over and over again is because, according to Ayurveda, it is vital to maintaining good health. If you aren’t digesting your food properly, 1) you aren’t getting needed nutrients and 2) you are creating toxins, or ama, as a result of partially digested food.

Lets look at these consequences a bit more closely:

1) Remember that even the best diet will not provide proper nutrition if our digestion is not doing its job. Not getting needed nutrients out of your food can result in a lack of strength, fatigue, slower problem solving ability and muscle response time, hypertension and more.

Poor nutrition can also set off a vicious cycle of poor eating habits. When the body is not getting what it needs to function properly, it gets “cravings”. It is easy for the intellect to mistakenly interpret these cravings and turn to a “quick fix”. Feeling lethargic, many opt for caffeine or sugar or carbohydrates (or a combination of all three.) These foods fail to give the body what it really needs, are difficult to digest and lead to more cravings.

2) Ayurveda believes that most disease and disorders stem from blockages to the free flow in intelligence in the body. When impurities build up in the various channels of the body (blood vessels, lymph circulation, cellular pores, etc),

These areas become cut off from biological intelligence and can become weak or diseased.

Improving Digestion with Ayurveda

So let’s get down to basics. How to restart a sluggish digestion?

Breakfast:

Digestion is no as strong early in the morning, so breakfast should be light and according to hunger. Avoid meat or eggs. Favor cooked cereal, fruit and fresh juice.Korean_abalone_porridge-Jeonbokjuk-02

Remember if you are taking milk not to combine it with anything other than sweet tastes (like cereal). Milk should be boiled. If you are eating fruit, do not have milk, even in coffee.

Lunch:

This should be your main meal of the day because digestion is strongest at mid-day.

Lunch should be a warm, cooked meal containing all six tastes. Ideally you should have at least a half hour for lunch, including 10 to 15 minutes to sit quietly after you are finished eating. This will allow the digestive process to get well under way.

 Dinner:

The later dinner is served, the lighter you should eat. Avoid heavy foods like cheese, yogurt, meats, oils and fried foods. If you like these foods, these should be eaten at lunch when digestion is stronger.

 Other General Principles:

Eat according to your hunger levels. Do not eat if you are not hungry.

Eat in a settled environment. Business lunches, eating in front of the TV and eating while walking or driving (or standing up) can disturb our digestive process.

Sip hot water during the meal. This enlivens digestion and helps the food be better digested and absorbed. Never drink cold beverages (or iced foods) either during the meal or right after a meal.

Chew your food well. Digestion starts in the mouth.

Avoid heated honey. Read your labels carefully and only buy unheated honey. Do not use honey in baking or add to beverages that are too hot to sip comfortably.

Eat freshly prepared foods. Avoid packaged foods and leftovers. Cooked food is easier to digest than raw.

Foods that are especially nourishing (and are quickly converted into ojas) include boiled milk, ghee (clarified butter), ripe fruits, freshly made fruit juices, almonds (pre-soaked in water — be sure to throw out the water), and dates.

Visit an Ayurvedic expert and find out what your body needs. Vata, pitta and kapha types may receive different recommendations on creating a healthy and strong digestive fire. They will also take into consideration any imbalances that you have. If you have a pitta imbalance, for example, you might be encouraged to avoid ginger and other heating spices. Remember that, unlike Western medicine, Ayurveda always looks at the whole. Your digestive problems may simply be one symptom of a larger imbalance.

Next week we’ll look at Panchakarma, the ulitmate approach to restarting digestion, getting rid of years of accumulated ama and restoring balance to the body.

For more information on Ayurveda consultations and Panchakarma treatments, go to The Raj Ayurveda Health Spa website:

www.theraj.com

An Apple a Day….Seven Dietary Recommendations to Reduce the Risk of Cancer

AppleIt is estimated that 60-70% of cancers can be prevented by the implementation of simple changes in one’s diet and lifestyle. Below are a few recommendations that have been shown to help prevent cancer and also promote overall health and wellbeing.

1. Increase amounts of fruits and vegetables (organic when possible.) Most of the fruits and vegetables you buy at the grocery store are laced with hazardous chemicals. However, fruits and vegetables also contain bioflvinoids, which are known to have anti-oxidant and anti-cancer properties. Because plants create oxygen as a by-product of harnessing the suns’ energy through photosynthesis, they have to develop powerful anti-oxidant defenses to combat the lethal combination of sunlight and oxygen (a recipe for free radicals.) The anti-oxidant substances used by plants to control free radicals work exactly equally in the human body.

2. Enjoy vegetable fats (such as those found in nuts and olive oil) and reduce intake of saturated and trans fats often found in meat and processed foods. Head researchers on a new study on prostate cancer published in JAMA, June 2013, concluded,” If you eat the right kind of fat, you are less likely to die of not only prostate cancer, but really, of any cause.”

3. Avoid excess weight gain. Those who are 40% overweight have a much higher risk of developing cancer.

4. Increase fiber intake. A high fiber diet helps remove toxins from the body. Low fiber and high animal fat diets have been implicated in cancer of the colon. This is another reason to increase the amount of fresh vegetables and fruit in our diet.

5. Favor fresh foods. Avoid processed foods and artificial sweeteners.

6 Add turmeric to your diet. Turmeric has been shown to protect the DNA of the cells and to stimulate detoxifying enzymes. Turmeric also has anti-inflammatory properties and increases the anti-cancer properties of other phyto-chemicals (plant chemicals). This is just a sampling of the many beneficial properties of this wonderful spice.

7. Avoid eating meat (this includes lean meats and chicken.) Every cell in a piece of meat and chicken contains a membrane that controls what goes in and out of the cell. This membrane is made up mostly of polyunsaturated fatty acids. Not only are polyunsaturated fats easily oxidized (creating free radicals), they are also storehouses for fat-soluble carcinogens and chemicals, such as many pesticides and herbicides. When you eat meat, ingesting these chemical-concentrated fats, the chemicals then become stored in your body fat, attaching to the DNA structure.

If you read my blog on a regular basis, you have already heard about the research that Robert Herron, Ph.D. conducted on the Ayurveda purification therapies (panchakarma) offered at Raj, Maharishi Ayurveda Health Center in Fairfield, IA.

The study, published in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine in 2002, showed that levels of fat-soluble toxins could be reduced by about 50% through a 5-day treatment program. The reason I keep bringing up this study is that there exists no other proven method of removing these kinds of fat-soluble chemicals from the body.  Western medicine offers no solution beyond letting nature take its course.  These toxins are know to have a half-life of anywhere from 7 to 30 years. This means it takes 7 to 30 years for the quantity to fall to half its value — to achieve a 50% reduction. The results of this study came after only five days of treatment.

There are a wide variety of detox programs available today that can remove water-soluble toxins and even heavy metals. Panchakarma, however, is the only proven means of removing fat-soluble toxins.

Whatever foods you may have eaten in the past, it is reassuring to know that you can undo many of the negative effects of those foods and start fresh on a new path of good health.

To learn more about Panchakarma visit

www.theraj.com

 

(Photo of Fruits and Vegetables Basket. Source: National Cancer Insitute, an agency part of the National Institutes of Health via Wikimedia Commons. The image is used under the terms of Wikimedia Commons rules: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Commons:Licensing. This photograph and credit do not constitute an endorsement of this blog or products mentioned.)